We visited a Massai village in Kenya, and we were invited into one of their homes. The Massai build their houses out of cow dung. This is my friend Denise and I inside one of these homes. We are sitting on cow skins laid on a pile of dung. Surprisingly, it did not smell of cow dung. Go figure. It takes 3 months to build one home.
Later that day, we had collected a pile of beaded jewelry we wanted to purchase from the Massai. I put Denise in charge of negotiating. I would have simply paid the first price offered and thought, “Oh my God, the guy lives in a dung house, give him all your money.” This is why Denise says I am not allowed to talk during negotiations.
The actual negotiations were very interesting. We put all the jewelry into a pile. Denise squatted down with the Massai villager that had been designated as their negotiator. He took a twig and scratched a price in his forearm. Then he handed the twig to Denise. She sort of stared at him, and then tried to figure out how she was going to scratch her counter offer onto her own forearm. The Massai negotiator stopped her and said, “That is a white board, it won’t work. You must use a black board.” Then he offered his forearm to Denise for her counter offer. They spent the better part of 15 minutes scratching numbers and rubbing them out. It was fascinating. Every time I opened my mouth to ask a question, Denise would say, “Shut up Kelly.” I did not take this personally. She got me twenty cents on the dollar.